DENVER, Colo. — Shaquem Griffin, a rookie linebacker who was the first one-handed player to be drafted in the modern era of the NFL, will start Sunday afternoon when the Seattle Seahawks play at Denver in their regular season opener.
Asked Wednesday whether Griffin will replace an injured player in the lineup, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said, “Yes.”
After the Seahawks lost to the Oakland Raiders in their last preseason contest, Carroll lauded the rookie.
“He’s really doing well,” Carroll said last Thursday. The coach said the rookie had an impressive first game, struggled in his second when he tried to do too much, then rebounded with solid performances in the final two contests of the preseason.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. told reporters Wednesday that Griffin has been “amazing.”
“It’s been fun to coach him. It’s been fun to watch his growth,” he said. He complimented Griffin’s mind, his speed and his ability to hit.
Griffin will likely start Sunday alongside his twin Shaquill Griffin, a cornerback, making it one of the rare times in NFL history twins have played in a game for the same team.
Shaquem Griffin led the Seahawks in four preseason games with 26 tackles.
He had received countless accolades at the University of Central Florida, including being the AAC Defensive Player of the Year, and became the 141st overall pick in the NFL Draft, in the fifth round.
He lost his left hand at the age of 4 due to a rare condition called amniotic band syndrome, which stunted the development of his hand, according to a 2012 Tampa Bay Times article.
Prior to Griffin, NFL.com says Ellis Jones was the first one-handed player before the Super Bowl era to be drafted, in 1945.
K.J. Wright, one of the Seahawks’ regular starting linebackers, is still recovering from a knee injury, Carroll said. The coach has not yet announced the other 10 starters.